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chapter thirty nine; the gang back together again

Now that Luke and Ava were both on the best terms they could have possibly been on in their story so far, the two of them mentally and physically cleaning themselves up as much as they could, it was only natural flow that the rest of their friends intertwined with each other's lives soon enough. And that's what had happened.

Luke's apartment had never seemed so full at the thought of more than three people occupying it soon, candlewicks lit and filling the room with the scent of pine and honey, a strange combination that was surprisingly heavenly to the senses to say the least.

Snacks were laid out on the coffee table courtesy of Ashton who had gone through the effort of preparing food while Calum brought out extra pillows and blankets, tossing them onto the couch, the records on their shelves finally being made useful as a random vinyl album of Queen played smoothly in the background. The lights were dimmed and practically off, and that was done by Ashton who had claimed that it was a mood-setter and "necessary for ambiance."

Whatever that meant.

Luke couldn't actually remember a time where they had used Ashton's record player, seeing as its only job ever since they had moved here years ago was collecting massive and disappointing amounts of dust. Its presence did add to the atmosphere however, and it was just another one of the tie-ins in the apartment, or the living room rather, that gave everything a touch of personality.

With no one to impress, however, and all three boys' having a habit of not having many guests over, it went ignored until tonight.

Tonight, the boys decided on having a small get-together where everyone could just hang out at their place since work had eased up and the holiday season was officially over. The end of January seemed lackluster and boring, the only notable thing about the month being the biting cold of New York and the panicked checks for weather when one thought the city was going to fill up with snow that would soon turn into disgusting blocks of ice and be the cause of even more immense traffic.

With everyone's schedules somewhat cleared up, Calum had called everyone over for a movie night, and Luke knew that the boy had been excited about this, not only because he missed time with his friends, but because he missed Becca.

With Becca's new promotion, which Calum did not shut up about, the power couple had little time to go on dates as they usually did, and Luke had heard constant complaining. But in a way, Luke enjoyed the little things like that now because before he had gotten closure with Delilah, Calum barely told him anything. Now that Luke was leaving his room more and being more open, conversations that he had never been apart had found their way to him.

Calum and Ashton had been cautious at first, knowing that in the past Luke had said similar things, but eventually reverted back to his old, emotional outbursting ways after several days—but with time, they began to talk to him more, they began to realise that Luke was serious, and this time, he meant what he was saying. That was how they convinced him into having this movie night in the first place since that was easier than throwing a full-blown party.

Old Luke would have said no, refused to be part of a well-intentioned party that didn't involve him fornicating with someone else by the end of the night, and when Luke liked to get drunk, he preferred it away from home when it wasn't personal.

Those days, it seemed, were far behind him.

Ashton, on the other hand, had been busy as well, in between his actual job and traveling back and forth from New York to a town a little while away called Easthallow Point. Apparently he had written a play called Firehearts while in college, or nearly out of high school (Luke couldn't remember which), and the students at his old high school were planning on performing it. With Ashton's business trips and now his new job as an assistant director of a high school production, it seemed like everyone needed a break.

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